Rush to Export Gas Would Significantly Undercut U.S. Climate Action

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org

Rush to Export Gas Would Significantly Undercut U.S. Climate Action

Leaders of 16 national and regional groups call on the president to reverse course—and order a full review of the 'Cove Point' LNG export project in Maryland as a first step in the right direction

WASHINGTON - Leaders of 16 national and regional climate advocacy groups sent a letter to President Obama today, calling on him to revisit proposals to radically expand U.S. exports of fracked and liquefied natural gas, which would significantly undermine his administration's efforts to tackle the climate crisis. As a first step in the right direction, the letter urges the president to ensure a comprehensive federal environmental impact review for one of the most controversial liquefied natural gas export proposals currently before his administration—the Cove Point facility proposed by Dominion Resources just outside of Washington, D.C. on the Chesapeake Bay.

"President Obama, exporting LNG is simply a bad idea in almost every way. We again implore you to shift course on this disastrous push to frack, liquefy, and export this climate-wrecking fossil fuel," the letter states.

"As a first step, tell [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] to drop its shameful and unacceptably weak permitting process for Cove Point in Maryland. Demand a full Environmental Impact Statement for this massive $3.8 billion project just a short drive from your house. An EIS will put more facts on the table and, we believe, will persuade you and the nation that a pell-mell rush to export gas is a pell-mell rush to global climate ruin," the letter continues.

Groups signing the letter included 350.org, CREDO, Food & Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Earthworks, all sponsors of a weekend rally in California that was the largest anti-fracking protest in the state's history, as well as the Sierra Club, the Energy Action Coalition and Earthjustice. National leaders Bill McKibben and Michael Brune joined a tele-press conference to release the letter.

"From Maryland to California, Americans are taking to the streets to say that climate leaders don't frack," said Bill McKibben, co-founder and president of 350.org.

Emerging and credible analyses show that significant expansion of fracking and gas export infrastructure could cripple global efforts to solve climate change, which Secretary of State John Kerry recently called perhaps the "the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction." In fact, the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of the LNG export process—including drilling, piping, compressing, liquefying, shipping, re-gasifying, and burning—likely make it as harmful to the climate, or worse than, burning coal overseas. Analysis shows the $3.8 billion Cove Point plan could alone trigger more lifecycle climate change pollution than all seven of Maryland's existing coal-fired power plants combined.

"President Obama has told us many times that failure to address the climate crisis amounts to the betrayal of our children and future generations, so it would be contradictory for the president to allow the LNG export facility at Cove Point to start operating without a full environmental review," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. "We can't cut climate pollution and simultaneously expand the use of dirty fossil fuels, and we must fully understand the consequences of liquefying fracked natural gas for export. Building new fossil fuel infrastructure keeps America tied to the past. We should be exporting clean energy innovation, not the dirty fuels of the 19th century."

The Cove Point project has faced particularly fierce regional and local resistance in recent months, including a record-large environmental protest in downtown Baltimore in late February and a string of three civil disobedience protests over the past three weeks resulting in arrests across Maryland.

Cove Point would be the first export facility to open fracking operations across the Marcellus Shale to Asian export markets. It would also be built in an area in southern Maryland that is by far the most densely populated human community in the vicinity of any proposed gas export facility in the nation. Despite calls from Maryland health, environmental and community leaders as well as Maryland's attorney general for a full Environmental Impact Statement on Cove Point, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced last week that it would release a more limited and less participatory Environmental Assessment on May 15 of this year.

"Marylanders would certainly have President Obama's back if he steps in to demand a full federal environmental review of Cove Point—81 percent of state voters expressed support for this more protective type of review in recent polling," said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "Ultimately, President Obama can and should abandon support for more fracking infrastructure and concentrate on locking in a legacy of new wind turbines and solar panels criss-crossing Maryland and the country—a plan that would create far more jobs than fracking and exporting climate-harming gas."

View a PDF of the full text and signers of the letter to President Obama.

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The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is the first grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to build and mobilize a powerful grassroots movement in this unique region that surrounds our nation’s capital to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability. - See more at: http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&l...

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